Rutherford Cross is hosting a number of online networking events hosted on Microsoft Teams, aimed at bringing our clients together to discuss their responses to unique challenges facing business at this time, and to share ideas and best practice.
Amy Peoples hosted an online forum for a small group of Treasury professionals to discuss specific challenges to the Treasury function, best practice when running a remote Treasury team and where to find and how to access the best external support/advice. We have hosted two sessions so far, with Jackie Ball and Rhona MacDonald, both from Edrington, Alouis Ngoshi, Weir Group, Sean McEntegart, Hampden & Co, and Craig Nicholls, Cigna.
Here, we share a summary of the experience and advice of each of our participants:
Business continuity is a challenge for treasury functions when it comes to resources. When cashflow management is absolutely essential to a business, treasury teams are very busy. There was general consensus that it’s generally very hard to “pool” staff from other areas of finance, particularly in a remote working environment. In addition to this, most Treasury teams in Scotland are particularly small.
Change however will be inevitable in terms of how corporates are resourced, going forward as a result of the crisis. Flatter structures may be the outcome seeing the efficiency that comes with a very quick line in to Board.
Banking / Borrowing:
Banks are still open for lending, but this comes at a cost. The Bank of England is operating with pre-determined rates for funding depending on the business size, offering a flat rate for 12 months. It is important however to note that Credit Committees will want every box ticked going forward, so compliance will need to be watertight.
Impact of COVID on Covenants:
There seems to be a reluctance from banks to offer covenant holidays. However, the theme seems to be that if there is a risk that a covenant might be breached, it is better to start having those conversations now. Smaller business without a Treasury function will need to ensure they pay close attention to these.
Since the start of the pandemic, things are starting to stabilise a little. The initial COVID 19 shock was really severe but as we adapt to the ‘new normal’ it is starting to pass. Fortunately, there is more stability in banks and better regulations in place than there were in 2008, so although we cannot speculate as to the impact on GDP – the economic impact may not be as severe. Fear and reality are two different things but market perception will always be at the forefront as it is what the investors see.
Some key tips / lessons learned as a result of COVID 19 came out of the call:
- Pay attention to the maturity profile of your debt
- Diversify your funding sources, even if this could be at a slightly higher cost
- Ensure relationships with banks are solid and be open with them – they may be willing to consider looking at the business pre crisis and the strategy of the business post crisis, as opposed to making decisions based on current status
- A strong balance sheet is essential to see businesses through this crisis.
- Priorities should be liquidity first, then cash management, then FX
We intend to continue hosting these online forums. If you would be interested in being involved, please don’t hesitate to reach out at [email protected]. We are keen to keep people connected during these challenging times.